Historic Shawnee school building being converted to affordable apartments

The Shawnee neighborhood on the western edge of Louisville is among the city’s most historic and well preserved, with block after block of well-kept mansions and bungalows alike. Today, some 13,000 residents call the area home. And soon, 43 additional apartments will open up inside the historic Shawnee Elementary School building at 225 South 42nd Street, according to a report by Martha Elson in the Courier Journal.

Built in 1915, the school building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Owner Clifford Turner is working to complete a $1 million renovation project to convert the building and 1956 wing into affordable housing. Repairs included removing lead from and rehabilitating 250 historic windows in the older portion of the building and replacing 200 more in the newer wing with energy efficient windows. The roof and exterior masonry is also being repaired, as the front of the building was reportedly close to collapse. The newspaper reported that Turner bought the school building in 1985. He told Elson, “Over the years, it started getting worse and worse and worse.”

Aerial view of the school. (Courtesy Bing)
Aerial view of the school. (Courtesy Bing)

The newspaper reported that more than $800,000 of the total budget was generated through public funding. Metro Louisville contributed $486,000 from federal Community Development Block Grants to cover the roof and masonry repairs and $104,850 from the Kentucky Housing Corporation to cover windows. The project also received a $225,000 grant Lead-Safe Louisville Project. In exchange for the loans, the units must remain affordable.

The C-J noted that Turner purchased the 56,500-square-foot structure at auction for $70,000 and invested $3.9 million in renovations over the past couple decades. He also built 36 new apartments as part of the overall Shawnee Gardens project, seen in the image above. Turner previously converted the Stephen Foster Elementary School on Garland Avenue to senior apartments in 2007.

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden is a writer and architectural designer living in Brooklyn. After graduating from the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, Branden practiced architecture in Louisville where he worked on several large LEED Certified buildings. Branden is the senior web editor at The Architect’s Newspaper, where he covers architecture, design, and urbanism. He has also written about design for Designers & Books, sustainability for Inhabitat, and architecture for the American Institute of Architects. He founded Broken Sidewalk in 2007, an online collaborative promoting architecture and urbanism in Louisville, Kentucky and the Midwest.

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